Undervalued Parts of Scripture

At Sabbath School this past week, I presented a data visualization of the parts of the Bible that the SDA Adult Sabbath School Quarterly has favored, based on the past 20 years of lessons. The image below is a map that lays out every verse in the Bible over a large area. Genesis 1 is at the upper left, Revelation 22 at bottom right, and the verses in between wind and wend their way up and down, left and right, like an intricate labyrinth. For the mathematically inclined, this is called a "space-filling curve." This particular one is a modified version of the Peano curve. The bright spots mark verses that are read more frequently.


You can see the lesson's emphasis on creation in the top left, where Genesis 1–3 are brightly colored. The bright spot to the southeast is Genesis 15, God's covenant with Abraham and Abraham's righteousness by faith. The next closest cluster of popular readings is Exodus 19 and 20. In the middle toward the bottom appear Isaiah 14 and 53, and the small cluster of multiple bright spots in the middle of a brighter-than-average rectangle is, of course, the prophetic book of Daniel. The right side of the image, dominated by bright spots, represents the New Testament, culminating in the Sabbath School lesson's all-time favorite verses, Revelation 14:6–7.

Interestingly, there are some notable dark areas, even in the New Testament. While we've read every verse in Mark, other gospels have less coverage. The end of Acts has also been largely ignored, though that's been somewhat rectified in our study this quarter. The Old Testament is much darker on average, aside from the highlights. Joshua has been generally ignored (it's mostly geography), as well as 1 Chronicles (much of it is genealogies). Oddly, Nehemiah seems to have been overlooked. The major and minor prophets are surprisingly well represented (not just Daniel), with the exceptions of Ezekiel, Lamentations, and the end of Jeremiah.

While the lesson study's coverage of the Old Testament is broad, it doesn't appear to be deep. Only a handful of verses appear to be as frequently read as the average verse in the New Testament. In fact, to achieve the same density of reading, the Old Testament would have to be half the size of the New Testament, when in reality the Old Testament is three times larger.

Having read the Bible cover to cover multiple times, I can concede that some parts are drier and less interesting than others, but I have also found tremendous treasures in places that we tend to page past because they are not doctrinally significant. Surely there exist more hidden gems in the dark areas of the map above, and I challenge you to go exploring and deepen your personal Bible study.